Privacy as Europe's First Amendment

Bilyana Petkova*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The protection of universal principles varies across different jurisdictions: the prominence of dignity in Germany or free speech in the United States is undisputed. My argument is that in America, the First Amendment took off only during the New Deal and later, the Civil Rights revolution as an identity-formation and unifying tool in a deeply divided society. The symbolic significance of free speech in the U.S. remains central to this day. In the midst of its identity crisis with looming Brexit, Europe is now experimenting with privacy-as-constitutional identity in a somewhat similar way. This article seeks to unpack the values encompassed in privacy and freedom of speech, looking into the different functional responses that two different democratic societies place their bets on. As data protection and privacy come to a clash with important trade and security interests in an evermore-globalized world, the power of the outward-oriented European privacy discourse is likely to remain above all rhetorical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-154
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019



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